Yuushi
Is adjustable geometry just a gimmick or can it positively affect the feel and performance of a bike?

There's lots of examples out there of solutions aimed at making a bike able to go from stable to twitchy which is appealing for that elusive quiver killer but are there drawbacks that outweigh the benefits?   Is a static geometry for a dedicated purpose or tire size the way to go?

Examples:
traditional sliding dropout
Otso Tuning Chip
Solace Cycles OM3 slide/pivot dropout
GT Grade Flip Chip fork
Rondo Rutt Twintip fork
Columbus Futura Cross multi-rake fork (on the Kinesis Tripster)
Cervelo Aspero TrailMixer fork dropout

No reviews I've seen have spent any significant time in both settings and those that have switched things around briefly seem to parrot the manufacture's marketing blurb.

I'd like to know what the experiences of the community are.  Thanks.


(Have you seen the gorgeously brilliant symmetrical yoke on the Solace!)
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chadrandom
Thanks for asking this!  I'm also super interested to hear people's experiences.  I've always figured it would provided just a touch of flexibility to allow me to find the most comfortable spot within the available range, but I've never considered actually switching back and forth between positions for different rides, which may be a better use of the feature.  I would also love to hear the community's experiences.
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chas
From what I have gathered with people who have these bikes, they just pick a setting and leave it there.

Personally, I change my trail by about 10mm.   I like having athletic responses on road tires, but those agile changes can cause havoc on gravel - so a little relaxation in the steering is a good thing.  I've always been curious about trying out those headsets that allow you to change the HT angle, but not willing to spend the time and $$$ on it yet.

I do have a bike that has adjustable wheelbase, but I've never really paid any attention to any affect it might have.   I'll say, that a short wheelbase can be almost impossible to drift compared to a longer wheelbase, so there is that...
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Volsung
I had 7k miles on an Otso Warakin and a few hundred on a Voytek.  The difference in chainstay length is noticeable for about a mile then you forget you moved it.
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Frank
I have had these chips on MTB's and saw little benefit for me, an average MTB rider.  Of course, now gravel bikes are getting into the game. The benefit of the  minor changes to head tube angle or BB or chainstay length etc is overstated for average riders.  I think that these chips are sales gimmicks.  For the racers, much more likely that they will get a bike with the geometry that they want rather then rely on flip of the chip.  
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Mudge
chas wrote:
From what I have gathered with people who have these bikes, they just pick a setting and leave it there.

Personally, I change my trail by about 10mm.   I like having athletic responses on road tires, but those agile changes can cause havoc on gravel - so a little relaxation in the steering is a good thing.  I've always been curious about trying out those headsets that allow you to change the HT angle, but not willing to spend the time and $$$ on it yet.

I do have a bike that has adjustable wheelbase, but I've never really paid any attention to any affect it might have.   I'll say, that a short wheelbase can be almost impossible to drift compared to a longer wheelbase, so there is that...



what do you mean by athletic, agile, and relaxed?
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Mudge
Yuushi wrote:
Is adjustable geometry just a gimmick or can it positively affect the feel and performance of a bike?

There's lots of examples out there of solutions aimed at making a bike able to go from stable to twitchy which is appealing for that elusive quiver killer but are there drawbacks that outweigh the benefits?   Is a static geometry for a dedicated purpose or tire size the way to go?

Examples:
traditional sliding dropout
Otso Tuning Chip
Solace Cycles OM3 slide/pivot dropout
GT Grade Flip Chip fork
Rondo Rutt Twintip fork
Columbus Futura Cross multi-rake fork (on the Kinesis Tripster)
Cervelo Aspero TrailMixer fork dropout

No reviews I've seen have spent any significant time in both settings and those that have switched things around briefly seem to parrot the manufacture's marketing blurb.

I'd like to know what the experiences of the community are.  Thanks.


(Have you seen the gorgeously brilliant symmetrical yoke on the Solace!)


it affects the feel and performance of the bike, though you may not be attuned enough to notice. If geometry changes didn’t matter, they’d just build all bikes the same. 😁
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chas
Geometry matters for the first 10 minutes, then you adapt and forget about it.  
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chas
Mudge wrote:



what do you mean by athletic, agile, and relaxed?


The biggest difference I notice* is initiating a turn.

lower trail bikes (agile bikes) can dive into a turn, which is great on the road or aggressive urban riding (which gravel type bike excel at).  This is a negative on gravel as you want a very gentle turn initiation.

On the other hand, with relaxed geometry I have to manhandle the bike to get it to initiate a hard turn, and I'll end up running wide anyway (at the same speed).

(*along with the ability to drift a longer wheelbase).

That is the difference between agile (low trail) and relaxed (higher trail) bikes.
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Yuushi
I'd still like to hear from anyone out there who's used any of this equipment.

The consensus so far seems to be it doesn't make a significant difference.  If I'm not attuned enough, then it's not significant to me.  Honestly I've been skeptical considering the largest change in any of them is 20mm with the average being closer to 10.  I really like the idea of being able to use a frame in a longer chainstay or high trail for logging roads and bikepacking but then tuck everything in for commuting or go fast days on the rail trails.  If it doesn't really amount to a noticeable gain though, might as well take it out of consideration for new frame choices.

Anyone try combining an adjustable rear with one of the adjustable forks or headtubes?
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chas
IMHO - its kinda nice to have, but typically gonna be a set and forget.     If you want to "play" you can change your trail by 10mm going from 23mm to 55mm tires, although you would really have to ride them at the same pressure to minimize the effect that the tire size on handling.

Its nice, but not a game changer.
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Mudge
chas wrote:


The biggest difference I notice* is initiating a turn.

lower trail bikes (agile bikes) can dive into a turn, which is great on the road or aggressive urban riding (which gravel type bike excel at).  This is a negative on gravel as you want a very gentle turn initiation.

On the other hand, with relaxed geometry I have to manhandle the bike to get it to initiate a hard turn, and I'll end up running wide anyway (at the same speed).

(*along with the ability to drift a longer wheelbase).

That is the difference between agile (low trail) and relaxed (higher trail) bikes.


i see that you get it. Lots of people don’t have any idea why a particular bike handles the way it does, or what sort of inputs are required to get a particular bike to handle the way they want.   One thing that frustrates me is the insistence of most of the cycling media to talk about head angle without addressing fork offset and the resulting trail figures. Aside from a mtb where you may be descending really steep drops, a slack head angle is meaningless, as you can adjust the fork offset to make a bike handle quickly with a slack angle or slowly with a steep angle. 
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Slim

I do think they make a difference.
I see two benefits:
The biggest one is maintaining  bottom bracket height. If you want to run a paved and gravel wheelset, the gravel tire wheelset will raise your bottom bracket. Most people prefer a lower bottom bracket for gravel than for paved.

Similar for people who want to run a fat 650b wheel set and skinnier 700c. If you don’t adjust fork offset, you will have less trail with the 650b wheel, but you probably want more trail(since you are using it in sand or rough terrain).

I see less benefit to adjustable chainstay length on a gravel bike. Road bikers like short rear centers. They need those because the front of a road bike is also super short.
As the front center grows (on a gravel bike), so should the rear center.
However, many roadies think that having the rear center on their gravel bike as close as possible to their road bike, will make it handle just like their road bike. 

Doing that, they ignore the difference in trail and front center.

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Slim
As to your question whether anyone has tried them:
I have not on my gravel bike.
But I have on my fatbike, where the shorter chainstay position gives me noticeably more traction and keeps the front wheel up on soft snow better.
I have also noticed the 10mm difference in bottom bracket height, slamming my mtb left to right.

I agree with Chas that most people can adapt to different geometries, for regular gravel riding. But, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a geometry try that works better for you, even if you can’t put your finger on why.

Personally, I like the adjustable options, and wish more bikes had the angle/reach adjust headset options too.

Of course, if you can get a custom frame and fork, and only plan one use for it, no need for adjustments.
But for most of us, we are stuck with a limited number of stock brands, and might want to switch things up, or at least experiment and fine tune.
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Yuushi
Seems this is a relevant topic. I see Enve just announced a fork with a flip chip  AND bosses for gear. Not enthused about the price though. 
If you put this on the front of an Otso or the Solace that have tilted and lengthening rear adjustability, is it more combinations of possibilities or unnecessary redundancy?
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chas
Then again, I used to commute to on a mountain bike, but got tired of all the maintenance and futzing around one needed, so eventually went out and bought a fixed gear bike.  
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Yuushi
Thank you, everyone, for your input. The consensus seems to be that adjustable geometry is nice to have but doesn’t have an overwhelming effect on handling or performance.
I will have a column for it on my spreadsheet in search of a good titanium all terrain bike but it won’t be a priority feature. Thanks.
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Volsung
I think you'd notice it with an adjustable rear AND adjustable fork.  That could be a lot of fun.
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jfranci3
Yuushi wrote:
Thank you, everyone, for your input. The consensus seems to be that adjustable geometry is nice to have but doesn’t have an overwhelming effect on handling or performance.
I will have a column for it on my spreadsheet in search of a good titanium all terrain bike but it won’t be a priority feature. Thanks.


I have an adjustable rear on my Trek- it is not very noticeable. It's only useful for running big tires or single speed drivetrains.

For the front, the trail measurement changes with tire size. I cant tell, from a practical perspective,  the difference in trail when I move from 700x50c tires to 25c tires on my bike.   That's about the biggest change you'd see. It doesn't radically affect 'hands off bar' stability nor actual/perceived handling. I'd look at this as a small way to minimize toe overlap when you're running a bigger tire.
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chas
agreed.  50mm tires slow the turn in a little and make the bike a little more stable - which is just what I want - stability with large tires and agility with small road tires.

jfranci3 wrote:


I have an adjustable rear on my Trek- it is not very noticeable. It's only useful for running big tires or single speed drivetrains.

For the front, the trail measurement changes with tire size. I cant tell, from a practical perspective,  the difference in trail when I move from 700x50c tires to 25c tires on my bike.   That's about the biggest change you'd see. It doesn't radically affect 'hands off bar' stability nor actual/perceived handling. I'd look at this as a small way to minimize toe overlap when you're running a bigger tire.
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Shaun McNally
I've got the Checkpoint SL5 with the strangleholds. It came with them forward in the "short quick and nimble" setting. After a few months it seemed to me it was just too skittish and jumpy on rough gravel, and chattered around on gravel climbs. I moved it back to the "long and stable" configuration. Much better in my opinion. Tracks straighter, doesn't jump around as much and I've got better traction on climbs. I strictly ride gravel with long straight miles and don't need my bike to be nimble. I need it go in a straight line.
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